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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Before and After (05/14/09)

TITLE: Just Follow the Bouncing Ball
By Lyn Churchyard


Horatio ducked under an overhanging branch of the giant tree fern and flattened himself against its trunk. He tried to calm his breathing, slowly, slowly, breathe slowly – don’t let her find you again He risked a quick peek around the fronds and pulled back hurriedly. She was coming closer; snuffling the ground, trying to follow Horatio’s faint scent.

Wincing, he examined his injuries; there was a sizable chunk taken out of his left leg where his enemy had spent ten minutes chewing on him. He groaned; his smart uniform would never be the same again and he daren’t think about his handsome face where the savage beast had slobbered on him as she carried him by the head. The very thought made him shudder.

A slight movement from the far side of the lawn caught his eye and he turned towards the garden bed where Jack and Jill waved and motioned for him to make his way through the fairy ring, which had sprung up overnight, and over to them where Alyssum and Viola spilled over onto the gravel driveway.

Horatio was halfway across the lawn, when he heard a delighted yip-yip and felt the ground tremble as the giant, slavering beast bounded towards him. He dropped to the ground and covered his head with his arms, waiting for what he felt sure would be the inevitable end. Then just as he felt the beast’s hot breath on his neck, a shrill whistle broke the still morning air and a cry of, “Here, puppy, fetch.” Horatio peeked through his fingers and saw the scourge of the backyard running happily after a ball, thrown by Little Boy Blue and Humpty Dumpty from the second storey playroom window.

Taking the opportunity the diversion provided, Horatio leapt to his feet, ran, tripped and then tumbled down the hill towards Jack and Jill, who had done their own fair share of tumbling down in the past.

While the beast was occupied with the bouncing ball, Jack and Jill carried Horatio in their bucket to the safety of the garden shed.

Jill inspected Horatio’s wounds. “Poor Horatio, look at your paintwork. It’s all chipped, and there is a big lump out of your leg.”

Jack nodded none too sympathetically. “Yep, sure not as smart looking as you were before. The girls aren’t going to give you the time of day after what the pup has done; your uniform looks a right mess me old mate.”

“Jack, just hush,” scolded Jill, “Horatio doesn’t need you to make him feel any worse than he already does.”

Horatio sighed, “It’s all right, Jill. He’s right you know... I’m a mere shadow of what I was before. That wretched pup has reduced my former glory to the point where I look like a bedraggled hobo.”

Jill patted his arm. “Don’t worry, Horatio, we’ll all help fix you up.”

Jack snorted. “After what that pup’s done to him, it will take hours of work to make him look as smart as he did before.”

“Not if we all help.”

The three friends turned to face the doorway as Mary, who can be quite contrary at times, came into the garden shed.

“I have some paint left over from when I was fixing up the picket fence around my garden.”

“Yes,” said another voice, and King Cole poked his head through the doorway. “and I have some gold we can melt down to make new buttons for you.”

“See!” Jill said, hugging Horatio as he grimaced in pain. “Before you know it, you’ll look so smart that even the pup will be following after you as docilely as one of Mary’s little lambs.”

Horatio smiled in gratitude as his friends gathered around.

“Right!” said King Cole, taking charge. “Let’s get to work.”

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This article has been read 680 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joy Faire Stewart05/26/09
After reading the first paragraph, it wasn't what I thought at all, and I love that! This is creative and fun.
Patricia Herchenroether05/26/09
Very creative! So totally different from the norm, it surprised me.
Gregory Kane05/28/09
Highly enjoyable, packed full of clever nuances that demand a second reading.